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Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad

  • International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

Abstract and Figures

Key Messages 1) EU-based actors play a significant role in land grabbing and related human rights abuses outside of Europe, yet the full extent of their involvement is difficult to quantify. 2) This brief identifies five key mechanisms in which EU actors are involved in land grabbing, and which can cause human rights abuses or threats. A full understanding of these mechanisms is crucial for tackling the human rights challenges emerging from land grabbing. 3) The EU and its Member States’ extraterritorial obligations require them to take concrete steps to prevent and remedy human rights abuses and violations in the context of land grabbing. 4) The EU has responded to land grabbing-related human rights challenges through a variety of policies and initiatives. However, the EU’s response to land grabbing, by acts and omissions, has been insufficient to meet its human rights obligations. 5) Business self-regulation and corporate social responsibility schemes have proved to be insufficient for addressing land grabbing-related human rights issues. 6) The EU and its Member States can play an important role in preventing land grabbing, and addressing related human rights abuses and violations, by implementing a set of policy regulations.
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The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Land Grabbing
and Human Rights:
Produced with nancial support from the European Commission. The views
expressed herein are those of the publisher and not of the EC.
Published by FIAN International for the
Hands on the Land for Food Sovereignty Alliance
Heidelberg, April 2017
This brief is a synthesised version of the study Land Grabbing and Human
Rights: The Involvement of European Corporate and Financial Entities in Land
Grabbing outside the European Union written by Saturnino M. Borras Jr.,
Philip Seufert, Stephan Backes, Daniel Fyfe, Roman Herre, Laura Michéle
and Elyse Mills (commissioned by the Subcommittee on Human Rights
of the European Parliament, published in May 2016). Wherever possible,
information was updated for the publication of this brief. This brief was
prepared by Elyse Mills.
The full study is available here:
All photographs by FIAN, with the exception of: cover page
photo by Carolin Reintjes and p. 6 by Oskar Epelde.
FIAN International
Willy-Brand-Platz 5
69115 Heidelberg/Germany
Design: Bas Coenegracht
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 3
Key Messages 4
Framing Human Rights in the 5
Global Land Rush
The Impacts of Land Grabbing on 8
Human Rights
EU Actors’ Involvement in 10
Land Grabbing
Understanding Investment Webs 14
Five Mechanisms Linking the EU 16
to Land Grabs
The Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) 27
of the EU and its Member States
The EU’s Response to Land Grabbing 29
to Date
Conclusions & Recommendations 31
Endnotes 36
4 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Key Messages
1 EU-based actors play a signicant role in land grabbing and related
human rights abuses outside of Europe, yet the full extent of their
involvement is dicult to quantify.
2 This brief identies ve key mechanisms in which EU actors are involved
in land grabbing, and which can cause human rights abuses or threats.
A full understanding of these mechanisms is crucial for tackling the
human rights challenges emerging from land grabbing.
3 The EU and its Member States’ extraterritorial obligations require them
to take concrete steps to prevent and remedy human rights abuses and
violations in the context of land grabbing.
4 The EU has responded to land grabbing-related human rights challenges
through a variety of policies and initiatives. However, the EU’s response
to land grabbing, by acts and omissions, has been insucient to meet its
human rights obligations.
5 Business self-regulation and corporate social responsibility schemes
have proved to be insucient for addressing land grabbing-related
human rights issues.
6 The EU and its Member States can play an important role in preventing
land grabbing, and addressing related human rights abuses and
violations, by implementing a set of policy regulations.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 5
Framing Human Rights in the Global Land
The recent convergence of food, fuel, energy, climate, environmental, and
nancial crises, alongside the rise of newer hubs of economic production,
investment, trade and consumption – such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia,
India, China, South Africa) countries – has brought land back to the centre
of development policy discussions. The solution promoted by many global
(political and economic) powers, is to seize what is considered to be empty,
under-used, available lands, and give them an ecient ‘climate smart’ and pro-
ductive use.
This is presented as a win-win solution that both produces prots
for corporations, and allows national governments to generate taxes and em-
ployment for their citizens. These ‘solutions’ have partly caused and legitimized
the on-going contemporary global land rush – or ‘global land grabbing’, as it is
often referred to in the media.
What is land grabbing?
“Contemporary land grabbing is the capturing of control of relatively vast
tracts of land and other natural resources through a variety of mecha-
nisms and forms that involve large-scale capital that often shifts resource
use orientation into extractive character, whether for international or
domestic purposes, as capital’s response to the convergence of food,
energy and nancial crises, climate change mitigation imperatives, and
demands for resources from newer hubs of global capital.”2
6 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
The targeted lands are usually already being used by farmers (for shifting
cultivation and pastoralism), artisanal sher peoples, and forest dwellers
(who collect non-timber products). The property systems in these commu-
nities are often based on customary tenure, and the inhabitants are often
indigenous, or come from ethnic minority groups. These are spaces where
the state has historically not had a strong presence. Yet, the state plays a
key role in land deals by creating a narrative about why these deals are nec-
essary; dening ‘marginal’ and ‘available’ land; reclassifying, rezoning, and
quantifying such lands; expropriating land; and through (re)allocation
or dispossession processes.
Human rights issues arise when the process, immediate outcomes, and
broader, long-term implications of land deals deny natural resource-
dependent people access to land, water and forests to use for livelihoods
or as spaces to live in. It is commonly understood that a land deal is only
considered a ‘land grab’ if it expels people from the land. However, this is
not the only way states and corporations pursue resource ‘control grabbing’.
Old and new oil palms on Feronia’s plantation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 7
Four contexts for potential human rights abuses
and violations
1 Land is required but people’s labour is not, so people are expelled from
the land. The key human rights demand is to restore their rights to land,
through policies such as land restitution.
2 Land and cheap labour are required, so people are often incorporated
into the company that has bought or leased the land. The potential hu-
man rights issue stems from how the people are incorporated, the terms
and conditions of labour, and the impacts this has on their human rights.
3 People still have access to their resources but land deals are seriously
threatening their access. The potential human rights issue here is for
people to have the right to protect themselves from expulsion from
their land, or from having their access to resources (land, water, forest)
blocked. The human rights obligation of states is to protect existing,
fragile resource and land access, and the inhabitants’ rights to benet
from that access.
4 People are expelled from their land, and are not able to nd employment
in rural or urban productive sectors. The potential human rights issue
here relates to their people’s to (re)gain access to land and resources
to feed themselves in an adequate way and make a living. Redistributive
land reforms and restitution are common policies applicable in this
These four contexts allow us to move from using human rights instruments
defensively and reactively (e.g. seeking reparations for human rights abuses
already committed), to using them proactively (e.g. pursuing the right to have
rights, and making those rights a reality).3 A human rights focus provides a
framework both for analysis and for policy responses to stop, prevent and
roll back land grabbing.
8 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
The Impacts of Land Grabbing on Human
The most frequent and immediate impact of land deals is the loss of access
to and control over land and land-related resources by local communities.
Such loss does not necessarily imply the loss of land rights (especially under-
stood as formalised private property rights), since in many countries land is
governed by informal or customary systems that are not recognised or pro-
tected by formal legal systems. Consequently, many people lose land without
formally being expropriated. Even though displacements and evictions take
place (often violently) in many land grabbing cases, loss of land does not
necessarily occur through illegal practices or using violence. It may occur in
more subtle or indirect ways. Even if the land concerned is often considered
as being ‘un-used,’ ‘fallow’ or ‘vacant’, it is used by communities for grazing
lands, by herders for transit routes, or as forests for food and wood supply.
Although some of these activities are sometimes described as ‘secondary
uses’ of land, they are essential for the livelihoods of many communities.
Access to, use of, and control over land and related natural resoures are
necessary conditions for the realisation of human rights for the people living
o these resources. This includes the right to food and nutrition, the right
to water and sanitation, the right to health, the right to housing, the right to
work, the right not to be deprived of one’s means of subsistence, and the
right to take part in cultural life. The rights of women and Indigenous Peoples
are also closely linked to secure, stable and equitable access to land and re-
lated resources. Regarding the human right to food, many land deals destroy
the possibility of people to produce or collect their own food, and ensure a
diversied and nutritious diet for themselves and their families.
Land grabbing also has severe impacts on civil and political rights. The lack
of consultation and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of local people
is a major issue in many land deals. In instances where consultations are
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 9
carried out, power asymmetries are rarely addressed. In cases where human
rights abuses have occurred, communities face major diculties in obtaining
adequate and just reparation, since there are often no eective (or accessible)
accountability and liability mechanisms in place.
Human rights defenders (HRDs) working on land-related issues are among the most
aected by increasing violence and criminalisation.
For a more detailed discussion on violence against land rights defenders –
including the 2016 murder cases of Berta Cáceres and Nelson García in
Honduras – see Chapter 4, pages 45 to 48 of the full study.
Gathering of a community aected by land grabbing in Mpongwe district, Zambia.
10 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Figure 1
Amount of Land Directly Controlled by EU Companies outside
of Europe
Source: Authors’ elaboration using Land Matrix data collected in December 2015
Austria (2)
Belgium (7)
Denmark (5)
Estonia (1)
Finland (5)
France (17)
Germany (12)
Italy (17)
Luxembourg (4)
Netherlands (18)
Portugal (13)
Romania (1)
Spain (16)
Sweden (4)
United Kingdom (60)
Country (Nr of Companies) Total Amount of Land Contracted (ha)
EU Actors’ Involvement in Land Grabbing
The role of the EU and its Member States in the global land grab has received
comparatively less attention than the role of investment players like China
and the Gulf States. This may be partly because many EU-based investors and
companies have multiple foreign branches, making it dicult to trace their
roots directly to the EU. However, EU-registered companies are engaging in
hundreds of land deals, which together add up to enormous amounts of
land in developing countries (see Figures 1 and 2).
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 11
Figure 2
EU Land Deals by Region
Source: Authors’ elaboration using Land Matrix data collected in December 2015
46 Deals
Latin America
82 Deals
195 Deals
This data was compiled from several available databases and is used to pro-
vide a broad overview of where some EU-based companies are registered,
and which regions they are targeting. It is, however, conscious of the limita-
tions and aws of attempts to represent the reality of land grabbing using
technical data alone (see Box 2). So for the purposes of the analysis in this
paper, available data was supplemented with information gathered through
the long-standing work of FIAN International on land grabbing, specically
documenting cases of human rights abuses and violations. The study also
uses published academic work and research conducted by NGOs.
For a more detailed discussion of the data on land deals discussed here, see
Chapter 3, pages 14 to 16 of the full study.
12 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
The limitations of databanking
Since the debate about land grabbing emerged in 2009, there have been
several initiatives to quantify the phenomenon, using dierent approach-
es. While quantication is useful and important, it is generally limited
because it is both impossible to capture the complete picture of what is
actually happening on the ground, and susceptible to projecting a dis-
torted perspective of reality. The most commonly used database on land
grabs is the Land Matrix, which is relevant, but both limited and awed
when looking at the human rights impacts of land grabbing. While the
Land Matrix acknowledges that its data “should not be taken as a reliable
representation of reality”, in most cases this is precisely what is happening
with the data.
A large part of the problem is how ‘land grabbing’ is dened – raising the
issue of what should be included and excluded from quantitative data.
The Land Matrix restricts its data to four criteria, which include land deals
that: (1) “Entail a transfer of rights to use, control or ownership of land
through sale, lease or concession; (2) have been initiated since the year
2000; (3) cover an area of 200 hectares or more; and/or (4) imply the po-
tential conversion of land from smallholder production, local community
use or important ecosystem service provision to commercial use”.4 These
four criteria focus too narrowly on land deal procedures, and miss many
of the important political, structural and economic dimensions of land
grabbing, as well as the impacts on aected people.
Another aw of the Land Matrix methodology is its overly foreign
company-centric approach to tracking land deals. Agreements that appear
not to be linked to foreign actors are excluded from the main data tables
and headlines – failing to take into account the complex web of actors
involved in many land grabs. The Land Matrix also has a tendency to be
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 13
too technical and procedural when addressing land tenure, and excludes
contract farming/outgrower schemes – a prevalent form of land grabbing
which aects a signicant number of communities worldwide. While the
Land Matrix tends to measure the extent of land deals by the number
of hectares aected, it fails to dig deeper into the political and economic
factors of companies and transactions. This is problematic because, even
when a land deal is cancelled, the process is likely to have already aected
communities. There is also discrepancy between dierent data sets, in
which additional research documents much larger amounts of land than
what the Land Matrix reports.5
A peasant woman clears an area where a tree plantation will be established in Niassa
province, Mozambique.
14 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Understanding Investment Webs
Importantly, “behind most large-scale agricultural projects is a web of global
actors that make the project possible. These actors include banks and com-
panies that are funding the project, and the companies that are buying the
produce being grown or processed by it.”
Some investors and companies
are thus directly or indirectly linked to land deals via nancing schemes and
shareholder agreements, which often involve complex cascading relation-
ships. This is very relevant for understanding the dynamics of land grabbing
and vividly illustrates some of the highlighted issues arising from certain forms
of data banking, due to the fact that it can obscure relevant actors – including
those based in the EU. The case of the agribusiness company Feronia, which
“occupies over 100,000 ha of disputed lands in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo”
, illustrates such investment webs and the prominent role of
European Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) (see Figure 3).
For a more detailed discussion on investment webs, see Chapter 3, pages 18 to 21
of the full study.
A family stands in front of the remnants of their house which was destroyed during a
forced eviction in Mubende district, Uganda.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 15
Feronia Inc.
Feronia CI Inc.
(Cayman Islands)
Golden Oil
Holdings Ltd.
CDC Group
UK Development
Finance Institution
Deutsche Bank
African Agriculture Fund
Technical Assistance Facility
(European Commission, Italy)
Agency for
Agency for
/ Proparco
Investment &
Banks: AfDB,
DRC State
Feronia JCA
(Cayman Islands)
Feronia Incorporated
Services Ltd.
Plantations et Huileries
du Congo SARL
Feronia PEK sprl
Belgian Investment
Company for
Investment and
Figure 3
Feronia’s Investment Web
Source: Authors’ elaboration based on available information8
100 Mio $ 40 Mio $ 40 Mio $ 40 Mio $ ?
100% 100%
12.5% 20% 48% 1.27%
100% 100%
24% 76% 80%
5 Mio $ 16.5 Mio $ 11 Mio $ 16.5 Mio $
16 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Five Mechanisms Linking the EU to Land
EU actors may be implicated in land grabbing-related human rights abuses
via ve main mechanisms. As noted, many land deals involve diverse actors
(e.g. EU, non-EU, nancial, corporate, private, public), which are linked to
each other, and to the EU, in a variety of ways. In order for EU Member
States to address land grabbing, it is rst essential to understand the mech-
anisms that connect these actors to such cases. Each of the ve mechnisms
point to specic measures that states must take in order to comply with
their human rights obligations.
Mechanism 1:
EU-based private companies
A company that has substantial business activity, or has its headquarters,
in the EU is involved in a land grab at dierent points in the investment
It can be a bank or company involved in nancing a land
deal; a company involved in the operation of the project; or the main
buyer of the goods produced. In some cases, a locally registered com-
pany manages operations on the ground, but business operations are
coordinated from the company’s European headquarters. The land may
be acquired through purchase, lease or concession, from communities,
private landowners, or the host country’s government. In the context of
large-scale land deals, a host state authority or agency is usually involved
in some way – either directly as party to a deal or indirectly by providing
incentives or establishing investment promotion schemes, for example.
Depending on the case, the EU-based company may also receive sup-
port from its home country, via intervention by the local embassy, or
through development cooperation projects.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 17
The case of the Germany-based coffee
company Neumann Kaffee Gruppe
In 2001, the inhabitants of four villages in Mubende District, Uganda,
(approximately 4,000 people) – were violently evicted from the 2,524
hectares of land they had been living on for years. Supported by the
local authorities, the Ugandan army evicted the community after a
German company, Neumann Kaee Gruppe (NKG), and the Ugandan
Government negotiated the lease of the land to Kaweri Coee Plantation
Ltd. (a branch of NKG) to establish a coee plantation. The agreement
included a clause that the land had to be uninhabited at time of handover
and former inhabitants were to be compensated – but they did never
receive compensation.
In 2002, 2,041 of the evictees sued the Ugandan government and Kaweri
Coee Plantation Ltd. for damages. The trial was delayed, so in 2009 the
victims together with FIAN initiated a formal complaint against NKG at
the German National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for
Multinational Enterprises – which concluded in 2011 (after only one
meeting with all parties involved) that NKG had acted in good faith in
leasing the property. However, in 2013, the High Court in Kampala backed
the rights of the evictees, criticized NKG for its disregard of human rights
and demanded that 11 million EUR be paid in compensation for damages.
Later that year, Kaweri Coee Plantation Ltd. appealed against the
judgment, which was eventually set aside by the Court of Appeal and
the case referred back to the High Court. Since then, court proceedings
have been delayed and the villagers have still not given back their lands
nor received compensation.10
For more details on this case, see page 17 of the full study.
18 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
The case of the Dutch private pension fund ABP
In 2005, the Mozambican company Chikweti Forests of Niassa acquired
around 45,000 hectares of land to establish pine and eucalyptus planta-
tions in Niassa province. The company was, at the time, a subsidiary of
Global Solidarity Forest Fund (GSFF), a Sweden-based investment fund.
When the tree plantations were established, shareholders from several
countries nancially supported GSFF – including the Dutch private Sticht-
ing Pensioenfonds ABP, which held 54.5% of the shares. Chikweti’s op-
erations have had severe impacts on the human rights of peasant com-
munities in the project area – whose most important source of livelihood
is family agriculture. Local people complained that farmland and native
Mechanism 2:
EU-based nance capital companies
Finance companies (such as banks, brokerage companies, insurance
companies, nancial services, pension funds, hedge funds, investment
rms and venture capital funds) are a specic type of corporation that
are becoming increasingly involved in land deals. Since the nancial crisis
and food price spike in 2007-2008, the overall price of land has made it a
highly protable target for nancial investors. The “nancialisation” of land,
agriculture and the food system has been a key element of the global land
Financial actors are not always visible in a land deal, since they may
nance land grabs indirectly – such as when banks provide credit to com-
panies involved in these deals, or when hedge funds and private equity
rms buy shares in foreign companies controlling land.
Pension funds,
made up of public and/or private funds (and are therefore regulated by
public or private sector law, depending on the structure), play a particu-
larly big role in land investments. For instance, the 2014 private pension
assets of 34 OECD countries equaled 38 trillion USD.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 19
Mechanism 3:
Public-Private Partnerships
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are partnerships between public sector
bodies and one or more private sector companies. PPPs are collabora-
tive agreements that allow public and private actors to share resources
and risks – with the declared aim of producing/delivering products and
services more eciently.
In the context of land deals, PPPs often involve
development cooperation agencies or public funds that nancially support
private investment funds or companies. In some cases, the public sector
forests previously used for food production and income had been lost
to the tree plantations. Although Chikweti had promised to create 3000
jobs only 900 people were employed by 2012. Those who did get jobs,
were given short-term, seasonal contracts, and were forced to neglect
their own elds during planting and harvesting season. Work in the tree
plantations was also very intense, involving long working hours and low
pay that provided insucient compensation for lost livelihoods.14
According to the 1997 Mozambican Land Law, consultation with local
communities is necessary, even if a company has a concession from
the national government to use community land. However, in this case
the communities complained that they were not consulted. In 2010, the
Mozambican Government investigated the communities’ complaints, and
found that Chikweti was illegally occupying 32,000 hectares of land, with-
out the required land title. However, the governments involved (including
the investors’ home countries, particularly Sweden and the Netherlands)
took no signicant actions and aected communities and CSOs have
complained that the tree plantations are still negatively aecting the
human rights of communities.15
For more details on this case, see page 24 of the full study.
20 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
facilitates land acquisitions by private corporations through specic policy
interventions. Proponents present PPPs as “win-win situations”, arguing
that they allow public sector actors to access the resources of the private
sector, which can generate more investment and jobs. In reality, however,
PPPs often result in confusion between the roles and responsibilities of
public and private actors. This has important implications for human rights
accountability. Corporations tend to ignore the risks involved in agricultural
investment by pushing governments to bend rules and regulations in their
favour. Since public goods are also increasingly seen as private/market
commodities, this creates a risk that the state will neglect its public
responsibilities and human rights obligations.
A Zambian woman shows the land that her community used before it was claimed by
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 21
The case of Luxembourg-based AATIF
Agrivision Zambia (formerly Chobe Agrivision Company Ltd.) is a com-
mercial farming company in Zambia owned by the Mauritius-based
investment rm Africa Agrivision (formerly Chayton Africa). In 2009, the
company signed an agreement with the Government of Zambia, which
provided the company with tax breaks and export rights. By 2016,
Agrivision Zambia had acquired at least seven farms in Zambia –
totalling some 18,000 hectares. Land-related conicts erupted around
the Mkushi farm block, sparked by the surge of commercial farming
activities. Recent eorts to acquire additional land lead to a denial of
access to land for a local community that depends on it to cultivate food
as well as threats of eviction and threats to destruction of houses. In
Mpongwe, an additional land conict with a bigger community is still on-
going. By the end of 2015, despite promising 1,639 jobs, Agrivision only
employed 208 workers (12 employees at management level, 126 xed-
term and 70 casual workers),17 and since the company took over existing
farms, most of these jobs already existed.
In 2011, the African Agricultural Trade and Investment Fund (AATIF)
invested 10 Million USD in Agrivision Zambia through Africa Agrivision.
The AATIF is a public-private nancing tool based in Luxembourg, which
was set up by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and
Development (BMZ), The German Development Bank (KfW), and
Deutsche Bank AG. The fund currently includes 141 million USD, which
Deutsche Bank manages.18 Other EU-based investors involved are the
Austrian Development Bank (OeEB) and the European Commission.19
For more details on this case, see page 26 of the full study.
22 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
Mechanism 4:
EU-based Development Finance Institutions
Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are mainly involved in land
grabbing as nancers of land deals and investment projects. DFIs are
specialised development banks, often controlled by national governments,
which partially implement States’ development cooperation policies. How-
ever, information on DFIs’ activities is not readily available to governments
and the public. DFIs invest their own capital and may get additional funds
from national or international development sources and credit. Their
involvement in land deals can take dierent forms: they give loans to
companies or private investors; they are involved as project shareholders;
or they enter into joint ventures. Although European DFIs usually have in-
ternal guidelines, or claim to follow the International Finance Corporation’s
(IFC) performance standards, a large number of reported land grab-related
human rights abuses involve at least one European DFI. In addition, some
DFIs invest about half of their total funds in intermediaries, making it
extremely dicult to see how this money is used, which raises serious
concerns about accountability.20 While DFIs are nancial actors, their
position as a link between public and private actors implies that they
have important human rights obligations.
Mechanism 5:
EU policies and international agreements
EU policies and international agreements have a signicant impact on
land-related human rights issues abroad. These include trade and
investment agreements, agriculture and development policies. The
following four policies and international agreements
are particularly
relevant in this context:
1 Investment: Contrary to EU Member States’ obligations to create an in-
ternational environment conducive to the universal realisation of human
rights, the EU currently promotes an investment agenda that facilitates
land grabbing.
One central concern is the imbalance between the
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 23
The case of Germany’s DEG in Paraguay
In 2013, DEG, the private sector branch of the German Bank for Develop-
ment (KfW), announced that it would invest 25 million EUR in the Paraguay
Agricultural Corporation (PAYCO).23 DEG holds 15.8% of PAYCO’s shares
and Rioforte, an international private equity rm based in Luxembourg,
holds the remaining 84.2%. DEG stated that it has negotiated a condential
environmental and social plan with the company that discusses how to
assess human rights issues. However, DEG has repeatedly refused to make
the plan available to the public. PAYCO manages 135,000 hectares of land
in Paraguay, which it uses to produce cereals, soy, and plantation wood.
The context of DEG’s joint venture is important: Paraguay has one of the
highest concentrations of land ownership in the world. According to the
2008 agriculture census, 2.6% of landowners control 85.5% of Paraguay’s
agricultural land, while 91.4% of small farmers own just 6%. Additionally,
around 20% of the country’s land was acquired irregularly by companies
and individuals during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner. The UN
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) highlighted
Paraguay’s land concentration as highly problematic for the realisation of
human rights (especially the human right to food).24 Yet, the Paraguayan
government has failed to address the issue – violating its human rights ob-
ligations.25 Conicts between rural communities and large landowners have
been very violent, and PAYCO has contributed to this, since part of the land
it controls is claimed by indigenous and peasant communities. Local people
have also complained about health problems caused by the unsafe spray-
ing of agro-toxics on these lands. PAYCO is also engaging in activities in the
Chaco – an environmentally fragile region, which has the world’s highest
deforestation rate – and has plans to expand its operations in the area.26
For more details on this case, see page 28 of the full study.
24 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
protection oered to foreign investors, and the protection oered to
communities aected by foreign investments. Investment treaties are
very one-sided, since only investors can bring claims against states
under Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.27 No similar
mechanism exists at the international level for individuals or communi-
ties to hold foreign investors accountable. A second concern relates to
decreasing public policy space and interference with measures intended
to protect human rights. There are several cases where investment
treaties have been barriers to redistributive land reforms aimed to
address past land grabbing-related injustices.28
The EU’s Everything But Arms policy facilitates
land grabs in Cambodia
The EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) policy was adopted in 2001, aiming to
promote development in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) by
granting free access to the European market. The EU has claimed that the
EBA has had a positive impact, but in Cambodia, it has facilitated land grab-
bing and human rights abuses. Before EBA existed, there were few agro-in-
dustrial sugar cane plantations in Cambodia, and now about 100,000 hect-
ares are used for this purpose. Several sugar cane companies operating
in Cambodia have stated that EBA has been a primary motivator for them
to pursue land deals.29 Three years after the 2009 liberalisation of the EU
sugar market, 100% of Cambodia’s sugar was being exported to Europe
(compared to 6.5% in 2008) – worth a total of 10 million USD (compared to
28,000 USD in 2008). Importantly, under the EBA, the EU guarantees a min-
imum sugar price which is higher than the world market price.30 One of the
largest sugar companies operating in Cambodia – the Thai company, Khon
Kaen Sugar (KSL) – is, in addition, partly funded by the German Deutsche
Bank Group (which has 10.9 million EUR in shares).31
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 25
After the European Commission rejected calls from civil society to investi-
gate the human rights impact of EBA, NGOs did their own comprehensive
assessment – concluding that at least 10,000 people had been negatively
aected by the expansion of sugar cane plantations.32 The documented
abuses included forced evictions, loss of land and water, and criminali-
sation of human rights defenders. The Thai Human Rights Commission
investigated the case of the two KSL sugar concessions, and stated that
the impairment of human rights (involving 456 families) were the direct
responsibility of the company.33 In one case, demolition workers, the mil-
itary and armed police, attacked communities without warning, clearing
their cropland and destroying two community forests. Throughout 2006,
villagers were injured and even shot – with one community activist found
murdered after documenting the evictions.
For more details on this case, see page 33 of the full study.
2 Development policies: The EU’s development cooperation policy is part
of its external actions, which are subject to a wide range of human rights
obligations. The stated primary objective of this policy is to reduce, and
eventually eradicate, poverty. In recent years, the EU has shifted towards a
private sector-led approach to development, arguing that this is necessary
to strengthen development assistance. However, these “partnerships” with
the corporate sector carry major risks, and tend to shift the focus toward
interventions that are protable to the corporations involved, instead of
strengthening the rights of the supposed beneciaries. The EU’s focus on
private sector development cooperation has been criticized – for example,
in the context of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Afrca.34
26 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
3 Bioenergy policies and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED): The RED
aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by oering incentives to in-
crease the use of renewable energies. Agrofuel production, for example,
is one of the main drivers of land grabbing, due to the increasing value of
oilseed crops. European companies and investors have played a big role
in agrofuel-related land deals.
Civil society organisations have repeatedly
pointed to the link between the EU’s bioenergy policy, land grabbing, and
documented human rights abuses,
urging the EU to drop its biofuels
target and to exclude bioenergy from the next EU RED.
However, since
the 2010 adoption of RED, the EU has not taken any direct action to ensure
that their biofuel policy does not cause negative social, environmental
and human rights impacts.
4 Trade policies: The most recent trade and investment strategy species
that one of the EU’s aims is “to ensure that economic growth goes hand
in hand with social justice, respect for human rights, high labour and envi-
ronmental standards, and health and safety protection.”
However, there
are many documented cases of conict between the EU’s trade policy and
its human rights obligations – especially in the context of the human right
to food.
Incentives, created through EU trade policies, to produce crops
for the EU market via large-scale land deals are a key concern. There are
currently no adequate mechanisms in place to assess and monitor the
potential human rights impacts of EU trade agreements, or to adjust them
accordingly. While most of these trade agreements include human rights
clauses, they usually focus on partner countries’ compliance with human
rights obligations, and not the EU’s.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 27
The Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) of
the EU and its Member States
Cases of land grabbing involving EU-based actors directly implicate the
human rights obligations of the EU and its Member States, which under
international and EU law, both have obligations to respect, protect and full
human rights. These obligations are summarized in the Maastricht Principles
on States’ Extraterritorial Obligations in the Area of Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ETOP).
In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty upgraded the Charter of Fundamental Rights of
the European Union (EU Charter) to primary law, and introduced specic
(domestic and international) human rights obligations into the Treaty on
European Union (TEU), and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union (TFEU).
The TEU requires the EU to respect, protect (“uphold”) and
full (“promote” and “pursue”) human rights in all its foreign relations. It also
highlights that both the EU’s external actions and domestic policies (with
international implications), must be developed and pursued in accordance
with human rights. In addition, the EU and its institutions are bound by the
human rights obligations put forward in the EU Charter and must respect
the fundamental rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human
Rights (ECHR).
The European Court on Human Rights has determined that
the obligation to protect and provide access to remedy under the ECHR
applies to both extraterritorial activities and domestic activities with
extraterritorial impacts.
The direct human rights obligations of the EU complement and reinforce
the obligations of its Member States. All Member States have ratied the
international human rights covenants and conventions.44 In doing so, they
have agreed to be bound by the obligations established under these
treaties in relation to the rights protected. Importantly, Member States
remain bound by their international human rights obligations when acting
28 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
within or transferring competences to the EU, and must ensure that the EU
acts in compliance with these obligations. The human rights obligations of
EU Member States thus apply, by extension, also to the EU.
In the context of land and natural resources, the Voluntary Guidelines on
the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, approved
by the UN Committee on World Food Security (and all involved Member
States) in May 2012, provide an authoritative international interpretation
and guidance on how to implement existing binding international human
rights obligations.
ETOs related to land grabbing
1 Avoid causing harm in other countries. The EU must prevent their do-
mestic and international policies and actions from contributing to land
grabbing and interfering with people’s human rights. This refers both
to activities that directly impair the human rights of people abroad,
and indirectly interfere, e.g. by decreasing another state’s ability to
comply with its human rights obligations. Conducting human rights
impact assessments (HRIAs) and monitoring the extraterritorial human
rights impacts of policies, laws and practices are important steps for
avoiding harm.
2 Establish regulations that ensure that transnational corporations do
not impair human rights in other countries. Measures to protect hu-
man rights must be adopted and enforced in all states that are in a
position to regulate a corporation.45 Eective regulation of the extra-
territorial activities of companies is a crucial issue for addressing land
grabbing, and both the EU and its Member States are required to use
their inuence to protect human rights abroad through diplomacy and
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 29
The EU’s Response to Land Grabbing to
Although the EU and its Member States were made aware of the human
rights impacts of land grabbing many years ago, and have responded via a
variety of policies and initiatives, the response has not yet been sucient to
meet their human rights obligations. The EU and its Member States have,
for instance, resisted against fundamentally reviewing the RED, and the
European Commission has refused to carry out an ocial investigation of
EBA despite pressure from aected communities and resolutions from the
European Parliament.46
3 Hold corporations legally accountable for human rights abuses and
crimes, and establish accountability mechanisms so aected com-
munities can access eective remedies (e.g. judicial). In many cases,
moral-duty-based and non-judicial grievance mechanisms have proven
to be insucient for addressing human rights abuses, and companies
often use them strategically to prevent victims from taking legal action.
Therefore, state-based judicial remedies are crucial and the human
rights obligations of EU Member States require them to open up their
judicial systems, guarantee all victims of corporate human rights abus-
es have full access to civil, administrative and criminal justice systems,
among others.
For a more detailed discussion of the EU and its Member States’ ETOs,
see Chapter 4, pages 40 to 44 of the full study. Annex 4 (pages 112 to
130) also contains a list of legal sources regarding ETOs.
30 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
In 2012, several EU Member States played an important role in adopting
the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land,
Fisheries and Forests – as part of the UN Committee on World Food Security
(CFS). However, the EU and its Member States have been reluctant to ac-
cept that their human rights obligations also apply extraterritorially and that
they include the obligation to regulate companies in foreign countries eec-
tively. Instead, the EU has largely been relying on voluntary commitments
by companies to carry out investment ‘responsibly’ and has endorsed a
series of voluntary self-regulation schemes as part of its Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) Strategy. However, since non-binding frameworks fail to
ensure corporate liability, this approach has been inadequate for eectively
protecting human rights and providing legal remedies to victims in cases of
land grabbing. There are several examples of companies that have contin-
ued to engage in land grabs using CSR schemes and non-judicial grievance
mechanisms to whitewash their activities and ignore their responsibility for
abuses.47 This highlights the critical need for the EU and its Member States
to take concrete steps to ensure regulation.
This land is ours! In 2013, the Sawhoyamaxa indigenous community in Paraguay
re-occupied their ancestral lands, which were in the hands of a German land owner.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 31
Conclusions & Recommendations
The EU and its Member States have an important role to play in preventing
land grabbing and actively addressing related human rights abuses. Their
extraterritorial human rights obligations require them to respond in an
appropriate and eective manner to these issues. Due to the complexity
of land grabs, dierent EU bodies (European Parliament, European
Commission, Council and Member States) must all be actively involved in
this response and a set of regulatory actions is required. Rather than acting
only defensively, the EU’s responses should focus on pro-actively contribut-
ing to the universal realisation of human rights. The following recommen-
dations are addressed to policymakers at the EU and Member State levels,
and are based on their corresponding obligations to respect, protect and
full human rights:
1 Ensure the EU’s human rights agenda more
proactively addresses land grabbing:
The EU and its Member States must formally commit to implementing
their extraterritorial human rights obligations by incorporating them into
human rights policies and guidelines. They should also make better use
of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) on Human Rights, who should
assess and elaborate reports on human rights abuses in the context of
land grabbing and collaborate closer with the UN Special Procedures.
Furthermore, land grabbing by EU actors should be part of the mid-
term implementation review of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and
Democracy. Operational tools should provide guidance for sta in the
EU headquarters, EU Member States’ capitals, EU Delegations, Repre-
sentations and Embassies regarding the protection and promotion of
human rights in the context of land grabbing, especially when involving
EU actors.
32 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
2 Work toward human rights compliant policies:
The EU and its Member States are required to elaborate, interpret and
apply all policies and international agreements in a manner consistent
with their human rights obligations. For instance, this requires them to
systematically carry out human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) and
regularly assess and revise agreements, laws and policies. Such assess-
ments must be conducted under public participation, and their results
be made public and inform measures to prevent, cease, and remedy
the harm. The EU and its Member States are further required to provide
eective complaint and remedy mechanisms for people whose rights
have been violated. The EU and its Member States must also address
the problems of policies and initiatives which have facilitated land grab-
bing, such as the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade initiative, the EU
Renewable Energy Directive (RED) or the New Alliance for Food Security
and Nutrition in Africa. They must further apply the CFS Guidelines on the
Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land Fisheries and Forests in all
development projects that may impact tenure rights.
3 Enforce accountability and regulation of EU-based
Adequate and eective regulation of corporate and nancial actors is
crucial in order to address land grabbing by EU actors and a key element
of the EU’s and its Member States’ extraterritorial human rights obliga-
tions. This requires them to proactively track and monitor land deals
involving EU actors and report on these activities, including through EU
delegations and Member State embassies in the respective countries. EU
Member States must develop policies and frameworks for the conduct of
corporations (over which they have jurisdiction) to eectively regulate EU
corporate and nancial actors, clearly dening the duties of these actors
and establishing clear provisions on legal accountability for human rights
abuses and violations. Regulation at national level should be accompa-
nied by common EU standards for corporate regulation.
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 33
EU Member States are also required to ensure victims’ access to eective
judicial remedies, including by assuming jurisdiction in cases of corporate
human rights abuses committed by EU-based actors and removing obsta-
cles for people aected abroad to pursue a case in the business’ home
state. Eective access by victims to judicial remedies in EU Member States
should be complemented by the creation of an EU-wide independent
complaint mechanism for individuals and communities whose rights have
been negatively aected by EU actors.
The EU and its Member States is required to withdraw any form of sup-
port (including nancial and diplomatic) to companies involved in human
rights abuses and use their inuence to prevent such abuses. In cases
where the EU and its Member States are directly involved in land grabbing
(e.g. land grabs involving development nance institutions, public pension
funds and public-private partnerships), they also must comply with their
obligation to respect human rights. This requires them to ensure public
scrutiny of such land deals by conducting independent human rights im-
pacts assessments (prior to and after an investment has been made), and
to withdraw from deals where substantial human rights risks or violations
have been identied. The activities of DFIs in particular must be eectively
monitored, for instance by establishing parliamentary commissions that
have regular access to DFI’s business records and monitors their activities.
DFIs also must establish accessible complaint mechanisms for victims of
human rights abuses.
4 Advance human rights in international/multilateral
The EU Member States’ human rights obligations also apply when they
engage in multilateral bodies. They should contribute toward advancing
human rights within the international bodies they engage in and/or trans-
fer competences to a body that can. In order to address land grabbing,
the EU Member States (and, where applicable, the EU) should therefore
support the on-going process to adopt a legally binding international
34 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
human rights instrument for transnational corporations and other com-
panies as well as the process to adopt a United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, which are both
currently underway at the UN Human Rights Council. They should also
contribute to monitoring the implementation of the Guidelines on the
Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the CFS
and human rights bodies.
5 Increase support and protection for human rights
In the light of alarming amount of violence against human rights de-
fenders (HRDs) working on land and land-related issues, the EU and its
Member States must increase support and protection for them. This
includes developing local implementation strategies for the EU Guidelines
on human rights defenders, which include specic attention to the risks
facing defenders of land, water and environmental rights. EU delegations
and embassies of EU Member States should issue public statements sup-
porting HRDs, proactively seek contact with them and their communities,
speak out on cases of violence and criminalisation of HRDs, and act as
observers at their trials. The EU and its Member States must also contrib-
ute to and support the diverse mechanisms on HRDs in the frame of the
UN Human Rights System. The European Parliament has a specic re-
sponsibility in this regard as it monitors the work of the European Extenal
Action Service (EEAS), which is responsible for the protection of HRDs.
6 Strengthen the monitoring role of the European
With the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has
been given greater power regarding the EU’s external policies. This
requires the EP to monitor the human rights impacts of EU policies and
actions using the European Commission’s impact assessments, request-
ing detailed information from relevant EU institutions (e.g. DG Trade,
EEAS), EU Member States and European corporate and nancial actors,
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 35
and conducting independent assessments. A committee of inquiry in
the European Parliament should investigate alleged breaches of the EU’s
extraterritorial human rights obligations in the context of land grabbing
in third countries. The EP should also proactively request legislation pro-
posals from the Commission, and work with the Council of the European
Union to create legislation that prevents extraterritorial human rights
abuses and provides eective remedy for abuses. EU institutions and
Member States must provide the EP with adequate information on
human rights impacts related to the involvement of European actors
in land grabbing.
7 Enhance the role of civil society:
Civil society has played an important role in bringing the issue of land
grabbing to the EU’s agenda. The participation of civil society organi-
sations (CSOs) in processes to address land grabbing must be more
systematic and guided by clear rules of engagement – which also reect
a clear understanding of dierent types of CSOs. To this eect, the EU
should launch an inclusive process to establish a mechanism that facil-
itates the eective participation of CSOs in developing, implementing
and monitoring EU policies and actions in relation to land grabbing. The
EU should also organise regular hearings at the European Parliament in
order to hear the voices of those aected by land grabbing involving EU
policies and actors.
For a more detailed discussion of the recommendations, see Chapter 6, pages 58
to 66 of the full study
36 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
1 See World Bank, World Development Indica-
tors, 2010; Deininger, K., ‘Challenges posed
by the new wave of farmland investment,’
The Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(2), 2011,
2 Borras, S., Franco, J., Gómez, S., Kay, C. and
Spoor, M., ‘Land grabbing in Latin America
and the Caribbean’, The Journal of Peasant
Studies, 39:3-4, 2012, p. 851.
3 Cousins, B., ‘How do rights become real?:
Formal and informal institutions in South
Africa’s land reform.’ IDS Bulletin, 28(4),
1997, pp.59-68.
4 Land Matrix, 2016. Accessed at: http:// (March 2016).
5 One example is the case of DWS (fund man-
agers of Deutsche Bank AG). A 2010 study
by FIAN Germany (see http://www.
vestment_funds_www.pdf) found that “at
least EUR 279,500,000 is invested through
their funds in companies directly acquiring
agricultural land. These companies actually
hold a minimum of 3,057,700 hectares of
agricultural land in South America, Africa
and Southeast Asia alone.” However, the
data from the Land Matrix only reports
that German companies have acquired a
worldwide total of 300,000 hectares. Anoth-
er example is the case of Finland, where a
journalist – after reading the full study for
the EP – was compelled to conduct further
research on Finnish companies. In his ar-
ticles, he highlights that the role of Finnish
companies in land grabbing is much larger
than the public is led to believe, based on
available data banks – as they control the
fourth largest amount of land out of all EU
countries. More information can found
here: http://yle./uutiset/3-9307387 and
here: http://yle./uutiset/3-9319223
6 Blackmore, E., Bugalski, N. and Pred, D.
Following the money: An advocate’s guide to
securing accountability in agricultural invest-
ments, 2015, p. 2. International Institute for
Environment and Development (UK) and
Inclusive Development International (US).
7 RIAO-DRC et al., Land conicts and shady
nances plague DR Congo palm oil company
backed by development funds, November
2016, p. 2, Accessed at: https://www.grain.
org/e/5564 (February 2017).
8 The following aspects must be considered:
(1) The data are taken from dierent sourc-
es from dierent years. The gure might
thus not reect the exact situation as of
today. However, this does not impede the
purpose of the gure, which is to exemplify
the complex investment webs surrounding
land grabs. (2) CDC shares are summarized
from shares and “benders”, an instrument
that can convert loans to shares. (3) Fero-
nia’s website mentions that due to negative
perceptions, the Feronia entity in the Cay-
man Islands entered into voluntary liquida-
tion. During an informational meeting with
Belgian NGOs, Feronia and BIO mentioned
that Feronia would now register in Belgium.
9 Most large-scale agricultural projects would
not be possible without a web of global
actors – which includes project funders
(banks and companies), and those buying
the products being grown (retail compa-
nies). All of these actors are aiming to earn a
prot from the project (Blackmore, Bugalski
and Pred 2015).
10 CorA-Netzwerk, Forum Menschenrechte
and FIAN Deutschland, ‘Neumann Kaee
Gruppe Vertreibung für den Kaee-
Import,’ July 2014. Accessed at:
(February 2016);
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (CESCR), ‘Concluding observations
on the initial report of Uganda,’ 8 July 2015.
Accessed at:
aspx?Lang=en (February 2016); FIAN
International, ‘Uganda - Coee plantations
in Mubende,’ 2016. Accessed at: http://
uganda-mubende/ (February 2016). In a
letter sent to the European Parliament’s
Policy Department after the publication of
the full study, NKG rejects any involvement
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 37
in the forced eviction in Mubende and
underlines their commitment to the coee
plantation. The letter, FIAN’s response to it
and a second letter by NKG are available at:
(February 2017).
11 See Fairbairn, M., ‘Like gold with yield’:
Evolving intersections between farmland
and nance,’ The Journal of Peasant Studies,
41(5), 2014, pp.777-795; Isakson, S.R., ‘Food
and nance: The nancial transformation
of agro-food supply chains,’ The Journal of
Peasant Studies, 41(5), 2014, pp.749-775;
Clapp, J., ‘Financialization, distance and
global food politics,’ The Journal of Peasant
Studies, 41(5), 2014, pp.797-814.
12 Friends of the Earth (FOE), ‘Land grabbing
by pension funds and other nancial
institutions must be stopped,’ Civil-society
statement on the nance of land grabs, June
2012. Accessed at: https://www.foeeurope.
grabs_june_2012_en_1.pdf (February 2012).
13 Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD), ‘Pension Markets
in Focus, 2015 Edition,’ November 2015, p.7.
14 Deininger, K. and Byerlee, D. ‘Rising
Global Interest in Farmland. Can It Yield
Sustainable and Equitable Benets?,’
World Bank, New York, 2011. Accessed
Farmland.pdf (February 2016).
15 FIAN International, The Human Rights
Impacts of Tree Plantations in Niassa
Province, Mozambique, September 2012.
Accessed at: http://www.
mozambique/ (February 2016); and
Livaningo, Justiça Ambiental, UNAC, O
Avanço das Plantações Florestais sobre os
Territórios dos Camponeses no Corredor
de Nacala: o caso da Green Resources
Moçambique, August 2016. Accessed
ambi (February 2017). In 2014, GSFF and
Chikweti were acquired by the Norway-
based forestry TNC Green Resources which
currently manages a total of 15,537 ha in
Niassa (
accessed February 2017).
16 Hartwich, Frank, Jaime Tola, Alejandra
Engler, Carolina González, Graciela Ghezan,
Jorge M. P. Vázquez-Alvarado, José Antonio
Silva, José de Jesús Espinoza, and María
Verónica Gottret, Building Pulbic-Private
Partnerships for Agricultural Innovation,
IFPRI, 2008. Accessed at: http://www.ifpri.
(March 2016).
17 Africa Agriculture, Trade and Investment
Fund (AATIF), Annual Report 2014/15,
2015. Accessed at:
IF_AR_2014.pdf (February 2016).
18 Hands o the Land Alliance, Fast track
agribusiness expansion, land grabs and
the role of European private and public
nancing in Zambia. A Right to Food
Perspective, December 2013. Accessed
at: http://www.
european_investments/ (February 2016).
19 AATIF Annual Report 2015/16. Accessed at:les/downloads/
(January 2017). According to a response
by the German Ministry for Development
Cooperation (BMZ) to a parliamentary
request, dated 12 October 2016, the
European Commission has committed to
acquire shares for 30 million EUR.
20 FIAN Deutschland, Rolle & Arbeitsweise der
DEG im Bereich Agrarwirtschaftsförderung.
Schriftliche Stellungnahme von FIAN
Deutschland zu dem Tagesordnungspunkt
“Rolle und Arbeitsweise der DEG in der
EZ” in der 20. Sitzung des Ausschusses
für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und
Entwicklung des Deutschen Bundestages,
5 November 2014. Available from: http://
DEG_nal.pdf (February 2016).
38 | Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad
21 See also Cotula, L., Addressing the Human
Rights Impacts of ‘Land Grabbing’, Study for
the European Parliament, 2014.
22 Transnational Institute (TNI), Extent of
Farmland Grabbing in the EU, Study for
the European Parliament, 2015. Accessed
IPOL_STU(2015)540369_EN.pdf (March
2016); Concord, Investing for Development?
Examining the Impacts of the EU’s Investment
Regime on Food Security, the Right to Food
and Land Governance, Spotlight Report,
23 DEG, ‘25 Mio. Euro für Nahrungsmittel
produktion in Paraguay,’ 31 January 2013.
Accessed at: https://www.deginvest.
(February 2016).
24 United Nations Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), ‘Conclud-
ing observations of the Committee on Eco-
nomic, Social and Cultural Rights on Paraguay
(E/C.12/PRY/CO/3),’ 2008.
25 FIAN, La Via Campesina, Food First,
Transnational Institute, ‘Land & Sovereignty in
the Americas Issue Brief N°4,’ 2014. Accessed
at: http://www.leadmin/media/
pdf (March 2016).
26 FIAN Deutschland, 2014.
27 See Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
and Transnational Institute (TNI), Proting
from injustice: How law rms, arbitrators
and nanciers are fuelling an investment
arbitration boom, 2012. Accessed at: https://les/
28 As shown by the Palmital and Sawhoyamaxa
cases in Paraguay, investment treaties
(between Germany and Paraguay) present
signicant barriers to implementing mea-
sures, such as redistributive land reforms,
that address past injustices and play a vital
role in the realization of land related human
rights (see: Both Ends, To change a BIT is
not enough: On the need to create sound
policy frameworks for investment, 2015.
Accessed at:
BIT_is_not_enough_sept_2015_HR.pdf (April
2016); Transnational Institute (TNI), Licensed
to grab: How international investment rules
undermine agrarian justice, 2015b. Accessed
licensed_to_grab.pdf (March 2016)).
29 Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive
Development International, Bittersweet
Harvest A Human Rights Impact Assessment
of the European Union’s Everything But
Arms Initiative in Cambodia, 2013. Accessed
Harvest_web-version.pdf (March 2016), p.22.
30 Equitable Cambodia et al., 2013, p. 20
31 FIAN Germany, German Investment Funds
involved in Land Grabbing, 2010. Accessed at:
(April 2016), p.11.
32 Equitable Cambodia et al., 2013, pp.25-29.
33 National Human Rights Commission of Thai-
land (NHRC), ‘Thai Rights Body Censures Firm
Over Koh Kong Sugar Plantations,’ Cambodia
Daily, 4 June 2015.
34 A study conducted by family farmers’
organizations in Africa concluded that
resources are targeted towards industrial
agriculture and that PPPs are not an
appropriate instrument for supporting the
family farms that are the foundation of
African food security and sovereignty (EAFF,
ROPPA and PROPAC, Family farmers for
sustainable food systems. A synthesis of
reports by African farmers’ regional networks
on models of food production, consumption
and markets, May 2013. Accessed at: http://le_download/86/
europAfrica_EN_web.pdf, February 2017).
35 Cotula, 2014, p.11; Diop, D., Blanco, M.,
Flammini, A., Schlaifer, M., Kropiwnicka,
M.A., and Mautner Markhof, M., Assessing
the impact of biofuels production on
developing countries from the point of
view of Policy Coherence for Development
Contract, Brussels, European Commission,
Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Role of EU Actors Abroad | 39
2013. Accessed at
(March 2016).
36 See EuropAfrica, (Bio)Fueling Injustice?
Europe’s responsibility to counter climate
change without provoking land grabbing
and compounding food insecurity in Africa.
The EuropAfrica 2011 Monitoring Report
on EU Policy Coherence for Food Security.
Accessed at:
(February 2017)
37 See NOAH (Friends of the Earth Denmark)/
Biofuelwatch/Econexus/Global Forest
Coalition/World Rainforest Movement/
Rettet den Regenwald/Rainforest Rescue/
Corporate Europe Observatory, Bioenergy
Out: Why bioenergy should not be included
in the next EU Renewable Energy Directive,
September 2015. Accessed at: http://www.
EU-Bioenergy-Brieng2.pdf (March 2016).
38 European Commission (EC), ‘Trade for all.
Towards a more responsible trade and
investment policy, European Commission,
October 2015, p.22.
39 Paasch, A., Menschenrechte in der EU-
Handelspolitik – Zwischen Anspruch und
Wirklichkeit, 2011. Accessed at: http://
wirklichkeit (March 2016); Concord, The
EPA between the EU and West Africa: Who
benets? Coherence of EU Policies for
Development, Spotlight Report, 2015b.
Accessed at: http://library.concordeurope.
PAPER-2015-045.pdf (February 2016).
40 Bartels, L., The European Parliament’s Role
in Relation to Human Rights in Trade and
Investment Agreements, European Parlia-
ment, 2014b; Hachet, N., Essential Element’
Clauses in EU Trade Agreements Making
Trade Work in a Way that Helps Human
Rights?, Working Paper No. 158, Leuven
Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU
Leuven, April 2015.
41 Bartels, L., The European Parliament’s Role
in Relation to Human Rights in Trade and
Investment Agreements, European Parlia-
ment, 2014.
42 Treaty on the European Union (TEU), 2007.
43 See Augenstein, D., Study of the Legal
Framework on Human Rights and the Envi-
ronment Applicable to European Enterpris-
es Operating Outside the European Union,
2010. Accessed at:
nal_report_en_0.pdf (April 2016), pp. 23-
25; Kirshner, J., A Call for the EU to assume
Jurisdiction over Extraterritorial Corporate
Human Rights Abuses, 13 NW. J. INT’L HUM.
RTS. 1, 2015, pp. 24-25.
44 In particular the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Interna-
tional Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW), Convention on
the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as
several ILO Conventions.
45 This obligation applies wherever a corpora-
tion has its center of activity, is registered or
domiciled, or has its main place of business
or substantial business activities, in the
State concerned.
46 On 26 October 2012, the European
Parliament passed an urgent resolution
calling upon the Commission to “investigate
the escalation of human rights abuses in
Cambodia as a result of economic land
concessions being granted for agro-
industrial development linked to the export
of agricultural goods to the European
Union, and to temporarily suspend EBA
preferences on agricultural products from
Cambodia in cases where human rights
abuses are identied” (see: http://www.
everything-but-arms/). The European
Parliament also passed a resolution on
16 January 2014 on the situation of rights
defenders and opposition activists in
Cambodia and Laos (2014/2515(RSP) (see:
47 For examples, see pages 55 to 57 of the full
FIAN International was founded in 1986 as the rst
international human rights organisation to advocate for
the realisation of the right to adequate food and nutrition.
FIAN’s vision is a world free from hunger, in which every
woman, man and child can fully enjoy their human rights
in dignity, particularly the right to adequate food, as
laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and other international human rights instruments. FIAN
consists of national sections and individual members in
over 50 countries around the world. FIAN is a not-for-prot
organisation without any religious or political aliation and
has consultative status to the United Nations.
Hands on the Land for Food Sovereignty (HotL4FS) is a
collective campaign by 16 partners, including peasants and
social movements, development and environmental NGO,
human rights organisations and research activists aiming to
raise awareness on the use and governance of land, water
and other natural resources and its eects on the realisation
of the right to food and food sovereignty.
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Neumann Kaffee Gruppe Vertreibung für den KaffeeImport Accessed at: http:// www.cora-netz
  • Forum Cora-Netzwerk
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CorA-Netzwerk, Forum Menschenrechte and FIAN Deutschland, 'Neumann Kaffee Gruppe Vertreibung für den KaffeeImport,' July 2014. Accessed at: http:// uploads/2014/11/CorA-ForumMR_ Steckbrief-KaweriCoffeePlantation _20141114net.pdf (February 2016);
Like gold with yield': Evolving intersections between farmland and finance,' The Journal of Peasant StudiesFood and finance: The financial transformation of agro-food supply chains
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See Fairbairn, M., 'Like gold with yield': Evolving intersections between farmland and finance,' The Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(5), 2014, pp.777-795; Isakson, S.R., 'Food and finance: The financial transformation of agro-food supply chains,' The Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(5), 2014, pp.749-775;
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14 Deininger, K. and Byerlee, D. 'Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits?,' World Bank, New York, 2011. Accessed at: DEC/Resources/Rising-Global-Interest-inFarmland.pdf (February 2016).
José de Jesús Espinoza, and María Verónica Gottret, Building Pulbic-Private Partnerships for Agricultural Innovation, IFPRI Accessed at
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16 Hartwich, Frank, Jaime Tola, Alejandra Engler, Carolina González, Graciela Ghezan, Jorge M. P. Vázquez-Alvarado, José Antonio Silva, José de Jesús Espinoza, and María Verónica Gottret, Building Pulbic-Private Partnerships for Agricultural Innovation, IFPRI, 2008. Accessed at: http://www.ifpri. org/sites/default/files/publications/sp4.pdf (March 2016).